Notes from Nonviolent Cities Conference Call

On June 19th we held a conference call for the Nonviolent Cities Project. We discussed the progress cities around the country are making and the steps budding organizers can take to build momentum. If you missed the call, you can read the notes or listen to the audio below. 

Nonviolent Cities Project Organizing Conference Call

June 19, 2018, 5pm Pacific/ 8pm Eastern (60 minutes)

Welcome – Ryan Hall – This call is for all those interested in actively organizing the Nonviolent Cities Project in their communities as well as those who are already working on it.

Opening Quote – Veronica Pelicaric

  • “My optimism rests on my belief in the infinite possibilities of the individual to develop nonviolence. The more you develop it in your own being, the more it overwhelms your surroundings and by and by might oversweep the world.” – Gandhi

Roll Call – Ryan Hall read the list of people who were on the call and where they were calling in from.

Updates – John Dear

  • Could be up to 150 cities interested in this project now.

  • Tiffin, OH became a nonviolent city two months ago. Over 300 metal signs posted in houses all over the city and downtown. Over 500 people were present at the launch, including 5-10% high school and college students. The churches engaged in systematic outreach for two years leading up to this moment, which helped create the incredible results and great turnout. Tiffin showed just how incredible the Nonviolent Cities Project can be.

Gil – St. Paul, MN

  • Starting “10 Days Free from Violence” from 9/21-9/30. Currently have 12 events scheduled, hoping for about twice that by September. Will include theater art, mural drawing, workshops for nonviolent communication, and more. Have engaged 25+ organizations in Minneapolis-St. Paul. “We’re building the airplane as we fly it.” The process has been messy, but it is coming together organically. Plan to kick things off by gathering enough people to form a peace circle around the lake in Minneapolis, which they expect to be a big success.

  • Planning to become something more than just an event. Long-term vision is to become a connector for groups of people doing good things in the twin cities. It has been helpful to consider how to measure success — in a change of attitude and change of culture, not a decrease in crimes necessarily. Inspired by Diane of Nonviolent Carbondale where they created a hospitable city to people of all colors in a region that can generally be quite racist. Has also come to see from Tiffin, OH how doing dogged relationship building between different organizations is the way to success, especially useful as the biggest city trying to model themselves as a nonviolent city.

  • Check out their website here:

Sister Andrea – Cincinnati, OH

  • The launch, with 300+ people, was a really important way to reach out to the broader community. Designing their project to have a broad outreach. Have changed their name to Nonviolence Alliance of Greater Cincinnati to be more inclusive and reflect that they are all allies towards a common goal. Focusing on listing and supporting smaller community groups that are doing good work in their own neighborhoods.

  • Had their first public event last week with Peace in the Park Day, with booths for all of the members of the Alliance. Used Peace Passports to encourage people in attendance to visit all the booths and learn about the work being done in their area. Now they are ramping up for the Week of Actions in September this year, and planning ahead for expansion in September 2019.

  • Their planning committee has broken into the event committee and two others that meet approximately once a month, which helps things stay cohesive. Check out their website here to see how they are modeling their work:

Ruth Ann Angus – Morro Bay, CA

  • Launching as a nonviolent city with a proclamation on September 11 of this year. Have reached out to other local peace groups in the area that were floundering to unite under the nonviolent city. Working with San Luis Obispo and planning a rally there in September. This project is something that needs to be done every day. Has also been doing a radio show once a month as a resource for other people doing this work called Peace Rocks on Central Coast Radio.

  • Had issues getting the police chief on board with becoming a nonviolent city, but the police chief and the mayor both came around to support the proclamation.

Alfreda –  Chicago, IL

  • Focus on training people to be individually nonviolent in their personal lives, and realize it is more than just joining a peace circle.

  • Also trying to get traction for the truce and reconciliation program to bring the community and the police together to both admit that there are criminals in their ranks and both are silent in protection of those criminals. It has been very difficult to gain traction with this project — knowing there are a small number of police tainting perception of the entire force makes both sides reluctant to working together.

  • Project 300 is working ward by ward to try to create nonviolent zones in these neighborhoods. Working with nonprofit organizations and businesses in each ward with people trained in nonviolence to create nonviolence zones within their areas. Important because it only takes 3-5% of a population to achieve a nonviolent goal.

  • Haven’t yet created a city-wide collaboration, but trying to work with the catholic church to build those connections. Next step is to read the 10 steps of creating a nonviolent city.

Final thoughts – John Dear

  • Please list any event during the CNV Week of Actions September 15-23, 2018. We are preparing for our biggest turnout yet, and would like to list all of your actions on our website.

  • The next big CNV Conference will be in Albuquerque, NM in August 2020. Start planning for it now!